Stress: Where Honorable Goals Go To Die

Who doesn’t love a good goal?

The weeks preceding January 1 are awash with thoughts of how to create the best “new you” in the new year.

Then the clock strikes midnight, the flood gates open and with a rush of adrenaline you plant your feet and declare to the world this is the year you’re gonna take it by storm. It’s go time!

But what happens at 12:01?

Panic.

Panic and stress.

My notebook was full of goals. Goals for my blog, goals for my house, goals for my life. Goals I had spent the tail end of 2013 carefully calculating and planning and writing down in I’m-not-kidding-around ink. All this was supposed to make my life better, more fulfilling, less stressful.

But it turns out life on the 2014 calendar page is the same as life on the 2013 calendar page. Still the same number of hours in the day, still the same demands on your time. Nothing magic happens at midnight on January 1 that suddenly allows you to do 15 extra things on top of what you’re already doing.

Sometime around the middle of January I started thinking, “Why am I SO STRESSED?? I have all these goals! I wrote them in ink and everything! I’m supposed to be conquering the world!?!”

Then I had an epiphany.

A voice in my head said, “Whoa, slow down there, cowboy! You’re putting the cart before the horse. You have to walk before you can run.” (My inner voice loves a good idiom.) The basic realization was, I was getting ahead of myself.

I was looking at paint chips and picking out a sofa while my pile of concrete blocks was still haphazardly laying in a hole in the ground where my foundation should be. Hanging a new piece of art on the walls is fun. Mixing mortar and stacking blocks is not glamorous, but if you don’t build a solid foundation, one strong wind and the whole thing comes toppling down, fancy art and all.

How could I possibly expect to meet all the lofty goals I set for myself unless I am in the best physical, mental, and emotional shape possible for myself?

I still need goals, and sometimes it will be stressful trying to meet them, anything truly good is worth working for, but I need to reevaluate and refocus my efforts.

I need to build a solid foundation.

The solid foundation for my blog? Writing.
I just need to write. Good, quality posts on which I am proud to place my name. That’s it. Everything else I want to do with my blog will come later. I read a lot of blogs, but the only ones I come back to time and again, and make time to read even when life is hectic, are the ones with great content. Period.

The solid foundation for my house? Mixing the metaphorical mortar.
I’ve had a lot of work done to my house in the last couple of weeks. I might share more about that later, but for now I will say, not much of it has been cosmetic and fun, most of it has been unglamorous and stressful and expensive, but necessary for my home to function and for me to function in it. I love my home and I want to take care of it.

The solid foundation of my life? Health.
Figuring out why I’m tired all the time was a priority. Spoiler Alert: I’m not getting enough sleep. Since that startling revelation, I’ve made sleeping, eating, and exercise the major focus of my time this last month. That’s why I haven’t written a blog post in so long. There were a couple of times I wanted to write, but I knew doing so would derail my bedtime routine. So, I chose health over writing.

My number one goal is to build a healthy lifestyle. One that feels natural to me.

Where it doesn’t feel stressful to go to bed early and get up early and make sleep a priority.

Where it doesn’t even cross my mind to drink or eat things that don’t agree with me.

Where I feel antsy or sluggish if I don’t go out and exercise every day.

A lifestyle where these things feel natural to me because I’m used to it. It’s just what I do. It’s just part of me. It’s who I am.

Am I glad I made all those post-foundation goals? YES. Absolutely. And someday I will work on them. Someday when working on those extra goals won’t crumble my foundation.

Will I still have big ideas and impossibly grand schemes that have a relatively small likelihood of coming to fruition, at least the way I see them in my head? YES. That too is part of who I am!

But my everyday focus for 2014 will be gathering the blocks and mixing the mortar to build the strongest foundation I can for my life.

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8 thoughts on “Stress: Where Honorable Goals Go To Die

  1. My issue: foundation work is no fun. I want a strobe light and a trampoline and a ball pit and a fog machine. Damn you for reminding me what is always so hard for me to remember, yet so vital to maintain: a STRONG foundation. Great piece.

    1. Thanks. I agree it’s no fun. You know, though? No reason you can’t try to make it fun-ish. Kick up the strobe light while you’re building up those foundation bricks! Or at least get one of the kids to point a flash light at you and turn it on and off while you’re on the treadmill??

  2. Well, I didn’t see this on the day it posted because I’ve been doing just what you write about here. When this school year started, I vowed to put sleep and exercise before anything else. Most of the time. It meant letting go of some things. The blog –and the online world in general–was the biggest one.

    It wasn’t that hard. I thought about what it is I want from the blog and what it is I want from life, and health/time with family is clearly more important to me and my bigger goals than having a big blog is. I let go of a bunch of things when it comes to our blog. (Because “big” is no longer part of what defines success for me when it comes to the blog.)

    And here’s the kicker: January 2013, we published 7 posts (our goal then was 2/week). We had 20,460 page views that month. January 2014, we had only 3 posts. Three! Not even 1/week. We had 49,768 views that month. I’m enjoying the blog (and the rest of my life) much more than I was a year ago.

    I firmly believe that paying attention to fundamentals is the key to just about everything. Love your writing. Keep doing that as you can, and the rest (whatever your rest is) will follow.

    1. Thanks, Rita. You’ll notice I’m now replying to comments at a sloth-like pace. It’s not that I don’t read them on my phone and love them and want to respond right away, but I don’t like responding on my phone and sometimes it takes me three days (or more) to find time to get my laptop out! And I’ve made getting my laptop out when it’s late and I’m already tired a no-no. Seems you and I are on quite the same wavelength regarding blog priorities. Amazing how those stats like to work themselves out, isn’t it? Your posts to views ratio is similar to the time input to views phenomenon. On average I can easily spend five or six hours writing a post and average about the same number of views every time. Last year I sat down and pounded out what I considered just an okay post about a not super interesting subject and I wrote it in 45 minutes. That post garnered four times as many views and comments as the posts I spend hours writing and rewriting. Go figure!

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